The WAVE Report
Issue #0411------------------03/26/04

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0401.1 Story of the Issue

*** IDF Spring 2004
By John N. Latta

February 17 - 19
San Francisco, CA

IDF Spring 2004 #1 - 2/17/04

Welcome to Camp Intel

There is no better an example of Intel being like the military than here at the Intel Developers Forum. The messaging is scripted. There are no surprises. Reality is only confirmed if it has been approved in advance. One of the better examples is the announcement by Craig Barrett, CEO, Intel, of the 64 bit extensions to Xeon. The reality is that Intel's hand was forced by the market to extend the 32 bit architecture because AMD has been successful at doing what Intel has said it would not do. Equally as important, apparently HP has told Intel it will sell servers using AMD's Opteron. Yet, today even when asked, Craig Barrett would not concede that the Intel implementation of the 64 bit extensions will be totally compatible with Opteron. The reality is that the market responded to a superior solution, over Itanium, and Intel could not ignore it any longer.

Craig Barrett, CEO, Keynote - Everyone Expected It

So the big news was the 64 bit extension announcement. Done.

Craig also spoke that times have changed in the adoption of technology. In the past, technology was only made available and the early adopters attached to it. Now the market must be prepared to absorb the technology. This includes many factors which are a part of the ecosystem. His point is that technology is no longer created, marketed, sold and used in isolation.

One of the more interesting demonstrations was UWB as a USB replacement technology. They claimed the technology was running at 480Mb/s.

In the question session, Craig was most bullish on WiMAX to create a digital broadband infrastructure. He stated that when it comes to last mile solutions of 50Mb/s and up to 30km, no other technology, at least in Greenfield applications, can match the low infrastructure cost of wireless. In this context, he stated that the undeveloped countries are likely to use WiMAX technology earlier and faster than developed countries. This is consistent with what Sean Maloney had to say at WCA.

Digital Home - Where is the Meat?

Louis Burns, VP & GM, Desktop Platforms Group, showed a television using the Intel LCOS display chip, discussed Sandow, the 2005 entertainment PC concept, outlined the DHWG and the NMPR Validation process as two complementary ways to support CE initiatives. Yet, it was not until the afternoon with the session "Digital Home Overview and Direction" that many of the weaknesses were evident.

Using a traditional PC industry approach, especially Intel's, there is a drive to achieve interoperability. This is rolled into efforts which Intel and many others support. There are element standards such as 802.11, UPnP AV, CDS, RIO and others to make sure that equipment works together. On top of this is the Digital Home Working Group which is focused on interoperability across PC, CE and mobile devices. On top of this is NMPR (Networked Media Products Requirements) driven by Intel.

This is driven by companies that want a share of the CE market. As a result they have packed their bags just as they always have: standards, working groups, interoperability and commoditization.

It is not at all clear, other than from a supply side, that such an approach is embraced by consumers and that it is, a priori, necessary. Today no CE company sells its products based on interoperability with other CE companies. Yes, there are some standards such as NTSC video, a.k.a. RS-170, but these are largely signal interface standards.

The interoperability framework was presented at 6 layers: DRM, Media Formats, Media Transport, Device Discovery and Control, Network Protocol and Physical Network. This was claimed to be between a PC and a media server. Yet, IPv6 was not included and there is no solution to the DRM issue. All DRM proposals, to date, have been proprietary and it is unclear that any one company seeks a single vendor solution.

To say that there are many DRM approaches and the consumer would not know in advance what they are, and that they are not interoperable, is a solution seeking market implosion. Unless the DRM solution is interoperable there is no interoperability at the system level. In fact, having a proprietary DRM solution is going down the path that the CE industry has today - they seek customers to buy all components from one company.

Compelling Content is the foundation for the digital home and those enabling content guidelines are due out later this year. Examples include: Music on Demand, Creativity (whatever this means), Video on Demand, PVR/EPG, Hi-DEF, and games. This can be viewed at 1', 2' and 10', local or remote, scheduled on the web and targeted content edited and lastly sent via e-mail, web, disc, or DMA.

This thread ran throughout the presentations today - any content, any device, any location. One can only concluded that we all must be standing around or sitting down, all day, digesting content. This is the media ubiquity model taken to the extreme. Or, put in another way, media myopia. Surely there is more going on in the home that just watching television or listing to music [that is a pretty dumb statement]. But Intel, like many other companies, is chasing this.

The Digital Home Ecosystem Stack includes: Media processing silicon, middlewear, system integrators, ODMs, PC applications and Online Content Services. Not a single company of the 31 shown are CE companies.

This is the wantabee crowd - like, "being on the Intel train gives us a chance in the CE market." One must keep in mind that Intel's approach to standards and interoperability benefits Intel more than any other company. When it is all driven to commodity, especially at the silicon level, those with market dominance are in the strongest position to reap the rewards.

But there are other shortfalls in these presentations. It goes back to what Craig said in his keynote about the market being prepared to accept technology and the ecosystem around it. Missing here is any discussion of:

Role of brand name in CE,
Marketing of products,
Production and scale,
Price points and price elasticity,
Retail, and
Customer support.

On the CE side one has to only look to Sony, Panasonic, Philips, RCA and Samsung to see what is required. For the U.S. to reenter this market is not new. Think of

Kerbango, and
Intel microscope

as examples of how difficult this is.

If there was any question that this is a PC-based event, the Technology Showcase, i.e., exhibit floor, made that obvious. Not a CE device to be seen.

For the PC industry to make substantial changes to the CE industry, or to even become a major factor in it, is much deeper than working groups, silicon that does media well or middleware. It is about a major and sustained commitment to a well-established market and ecosystem. What we have seen at CES and now at IDF is a long way away from that commitment.

The March of Processors

Bill Siu, VP & GM, Desktop Platforms Group, and Mike Fister, Senior VP & GM, Enterprise Platforms Group, gave a keynote on the End-to-End Enterprise. 2003 was called the Milestone Year for Itanium 2. It is claimed to be #1 in the performance benchmarks; there are 50+ systems shipping and 1,000 applications have been ported to it. The cheers were much more muted when it was announced that only 110,000 have been shipped. No wonder Mike Fister is struggling to meet quota. Six new code name processors were shown on the roadmap. Enhanced processor technologies coming include: virtualization, power management, I/O & Storage, Memory and reliability. It was implied in 5 years that the low end of the Itanium would be at price parity with the high end Xeon. More was made of the 64 bit extension technology. They even claimed the company has been working on this a long time. Shane Robison, Chief Strategy & Technology Officer, HP, sung praises for the 64 bit extensions but said nothing about their intent to ship AMD Opteron systems.

Anand Chandrasekher, VP and GM, Mobil Platforms Group, showed design concepts for the 2005 mobile PC called Florence. There are three versions: Florence 12" - On the Go, 15" - Virtual Office, and 17" - Mobil Entertainment PC. The latter got the most attention. The keyboard slips from the integrated case and is wireless. On the left side is a VoIP phone which pops from housing and on the right is a media PC remote. What is striking is that this could become a Longhorn Media PC reference design and that the overall ID is quite distinct from what we see today in either notebooks or media PCs.

Anand also outlined major activities in the mobil sector. Coming in H2 2004 is Sonoma which combines the Dothan chip with the Alviso chip set. This will support 802.11 a/b/g. An interesting twist - they are suggesting that displays should also be on the outside case of the notebooks. This can provide useful information including: WLAN signal strength, battery status, e-mail status and time. There is an interesting comparison to the sub displays on the outside of cell phone that have gone over very well, especially in Korea. Note that many of these displays are OLED. Certainly the most exciting demos were with the Florence notebook designs outlined above.

Digital Home Security

Craig Barrett said it best, the media box is just a PC masking as CE. Yet, the intended market is CE and we should consider it in this context. The use paradigms for each is quite different.

Turn on Boots Plays
Control Keyboard/Mouse On/Off/Buttons on Hand Held Control
Connectivity Network/Internet None
Media Software, CD or Network Broadcast, cable, DVD, CD, others
Experience Use Result Media play, replay and observation
Failures Based on Type (Some skills required) Take to Shop; return product or discard
Update Via Software Almost Never
Security Issues Frequent Never

From a market standpoint the PC media box in the digital home should:

Look like CE,
Bought and used just like CE,
User I/F is CE-like,
Integrate with other CE in the home, and
Not require any attention beyond what is done with CE, i.e., virtually none.

All of these attributes are consistent with the presentations at CES and here.

It is not necessary that this box be connected to the Internet but it is likely that many will be. Users may get e-mail and browse the web with a small or big screen experience. Further, when it is connected to the Internet and the home is networked, the PC media box may be the central device in that network - so called media server. In this environment the perceived value of the PC media box is increased. In spite of all of these factors, the success of this home appliance is that it is a CE duck - walks like CE and quacks like CE and in the consumer mind, it is CE.

The problem is that it is a sitting CE security duck.

If one can accept the analogy, there are parallels with the attacks on 9/11. In the pre-9/11 environment we had grown complacent with security and, with relatively small efforts, terrorists could cause significant long-term damage and change to society. Such is the impact of exploiting holes in the security fabric of society.

In the PC world, we are in the middle of a terror campaign. Spam is threatening the value of e-mail, spyware eats at the fabric of the privacy of the computer, others may download executable programs on a PC with ease and it is possible, without the user's knowledge, to turn a PC into a spam engine or DOS attack instrument.

What then does this have to do with the CE box a consumer buys? It is a PC under the skin but not seen as such by the consumer. A million or more home networks that have an "old" PC, in a security context, at the center, is a prime terror target. The market impact of one malicious virus campaign against these PC media boxes could literally kill the market for them. As virus attacks get more sophisticated, it is not unreasonable to expect that specific targets emerge. As with MyDoom, that target was SCO, but it could just as easily be 1m+ digitally networked homes.

The potential for attack is in fact amplified by how the box is used in a network context. That is, it may be connected directly to the Internet with no firewall, it is not a managed box or network, the means of browsing and gaining e-mail varies significantly between consumers and it can be subject to attacks when found on the Internet.

This takes us back to the user paradigms shown above. The CE use model and consumer expectations do not relate to security or updating. Ask the consumer if they have updated a Panasonic VTR or Sony home media center and only stares result. To expect that the user will update a PC media box is unrealistic - this is antithetical to the use expectations. As a result, it is highly likely that over time home networks will become increasingly vulnerable to attack. The attackers may gain satisfaction from the result but the market result will be disastrous.

How to avoid this? There are many creative ways. Some include: hosted ISP services, mandatory PC media box upgrading, consumer firewalls, hardware protections, remotely managed services and many more. Virtually all of these either translate into the consumers spending more money, at the time of purchase or on a monthly basis, or, with rising use, complexity or both. Neither one is fitting within the user CE expectations. Placing a PC media box in the home cannot result in the home becoming an IT bastion, if so it defeats the whole purpose of entering this market. Thus, a priori, from a supplier perspective, it is impossible to predict what systems in the field, over time, will be vulnerable and, thus, impossible to estimate the impact of targeted attacks. The end result, managing assault situations is very difficult, if not impossible.

What does all of this have to do with IDF? Quite simply since the issue was not being discussed, the WAVE Report asked questions. First in the Digital Home Experience area the following was asked: "How will the consumer digital home network be protected?" The quick answer was: DTCP-IP. Yet, this is for the protection of media rights from abuse by consumers, not for the protection of the consumer's computer. Yes, was the response to my observation.

Then at the session on an Opt-in Strategy for a Safer Computing Platform, the WAVE Report asked if TPM could be used to protect the consumer. TPM was clearly not designed for this; it would only provide some protection and certainly not for the variability of viruses being seen today.

Thus, the responses, to this limited probing were insightful and reinforced the concern. It appears that the effort at protecting the consumer investment in the digital home pales in comparison to that invested in DRM. Thus, when the supplier of content is more important than the buyer of the home infrastructure, only trouble looms. The CE duck is sitting.

Wireless USB is hot but keep in mind it is just another name for an UWB application. NEC was showing a demonstration on the Showcase floor. Volume production is expected in 2005. On the technology road, Intel has shown it can play standards politics as well as the best. With the IEEE 802.15.3a standards effort log jammed between the OFDM (Intel) and DS-CDMA (Motorola) camps, Intel walked with TI and will use the MBOA (Multiband OFDM Alliance) as the means to complete the MAC and PHY standard. This effectively neuters the IEEE activities. So much for all the charts that Intel has been giving on the rapid ramp impact that IEEE standards have. The message is, this rapid ramp rule only applies when Intel agrees with the standard being proposed.

In his keynote, Pat Gelsinger, CTO, Intel, spoke of the Era of Tera. He showed a 300mm silicon wafer which has multiple radios on a chip. The key to this design is a reconfigurable architecture which includes a 4X4X4 Reconfigurable PLA, a 256-state Viterbi ACS and 16 X 15b Multiplier. This is beginning to approach the architecture required to implement the Software Defined Radios shown at the SDR Forum. These were state machines implemented in FPGAs. Intel has yet to speak about its plans in cognitive radios.

In the Intel military, Moore's Law is the doctrine. Pat began his talk by asking - is Moore's Law at the end of the road? Not hard to guess the answer to that question. But in the process, Pat described many of the challenges which lie ahead. His glimpse of the future was centered on digital immersion. Digital should be a part of our lives every minute, everywhere and with everyone. This creates massive quantities of information and Intel's expects this demand to drive the demand for processing. He then described the RMS view which has the components of: Recognition, Mining and Synthesis. This perspective is totally information centric and largely visual in framework. Pat is projecting that our lives will be transformed by these massive quantities of information.

What was glaringly missing in Pat's keynote was any concept of action or work. By implication, all human acts are cerebral, which seems naively incomplete. In fact, most of what we do in a day is based on action or work. Driving an automobile uses many forms of work and mechanical advantage which has the driver in control. Human movement is a form of action and the most consistent passive form of human activity is sleep.

The logical response to the question of how can technology help. Man cannot focus on just information. The major gains from technology in the last 100 years were in power and transportation which are either forms of action and work or enable them. Robotics is a technical implementation of action and work as is a dishwasher. As we look to the future of what technology can do for man, it includes: biotechnology, information and action/work.

Wireless USB - Trying to Make it Just Like USB.

With surprising speed the first UWB application has surfaced - wireless USB. Intel has taken this beyond USB and seeks to provide a transport which will support 1394, Bluetooth and USB 2.0. They are seeking to use a convergence layer above the UWB MAC which will support all three of these protocols. They call this WiMEDIA.

All of these activities did not converge until February 2004, that is, they were announced yesterday, 2/17. The promoter companies are Agere Systems, HP, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, Philips and Samsung. The requirements include:

480Mb/s bandwidth to 3 meters
Up to 1Gb/s
Power management including sleep/listen and wake
Ease of Use which parallels USB
Bridge to wired USB devices
Host to Device wireless connectivity
Cluster on a Host of up to 127 devices
QoS support

The specification from MBOA covering the MAC and PHY layer are due Q2 2004. V 1.0 of the Wireless USB specification is due early 2005. First standards based products are to surface in mid-2005.

In the NEC booth was a demonstration of Wireless USB. Its silicon partner is Staccato Communications. The demo uses a Xilinx FPGA but the final silicon will be an ASIC. It was stated by NEC that the receiver would be direct conversion. Engineering samples of the silicon are due at the end of 2004. Production in 2005. The products will use the full UWB spectrum - 3.1 to 4.9 GHz.


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